"CheapaCampa 4WD Perth - Adelaide feb 2017"
- Reviewed 4 months ago
We - a couple 68/69 years old - rented a Cheapa 4WD campervan (Toyota Hitop) for 3 weeks in feb 2017 travelling from Perth to Adelaide. We are returning customers with Apollo and Cheapa, also having rented from Britz, Maui and several others. Having read many comments, here is my advise for future rentals and our experience with Cheapa this time.
1. Many users complain about additional costs when collecting the vehicle and unforeseen additions. Yes, they may try to convince you that you really need all these extras and additional insurance-options (which are ridiculously overpriced: to further reduce your liability you will pay 25% of the risk!). And yes, they do charge for everything extra. And yes, you will know that in advance if you care to read their terms and conditions, rental agreement and the information on their website. Nobody will force you to buy additional cover or services on the spot. We didn't, apart from a 140 AUD cover for tires, windscreen and towing assistance which we found useful and worth the money.
2. If you wish to avoid paying creditcard fees, book through one of the many intermediary companies: we paid our rental costs - on request - by bank transfer. Unfortunately when collecting the vehicle you can only pay your bond - in our case 5000 AUD - by creditcard; however this procedure is followed by all major rental companies. Cheapa charges a 2% non-refundable (!) handling fee over this bond which is very customer-unfriendly. Again, we knew this in advance and we took this additional payment of 100 AUD into account when calculating the total rental costs. You should do the same (with Cheapa).
3. Our bond was refunded two days after car return.
Rental experience and advise:
1. Inventory of these Cheapa campers is poor. It seems they do not wish to spend one dollar more than needed. No camping gear but standard cheap and breakable household items. Don't break a glass when camping in the bush because you will have to share the remaining one for some time. Incomplete and non matching items. Two knives so blunt you cannot cut butter with it. Washing line was a short piece of thin and frayed rope, Etcetera, This is a weak point with all rental companies but certainly with Cheapa. Advise: bring items such as sharp knives and be prepared to shop for some items such as small boxes, wineglasses and a simple coffee perculator. It's no major thing, just be prepared.
2. The vehicle exterior was reasonably clean, inside it was reasonably dirty. Floor is ok but when you open a cupboard to refill the water container, put on some plastic gloves because it has never been cleaned. Yak. So be prepared and don't expect too much. Problem is, when you collect the vehicle, are you going to refuse it because it's not too clean? You want to be on your way, don't you...
3. When explaining the vehicle functions (our staff member in Perth was very friendly and certainly helpful), they do not use a check list. Result: things are forgotten. Advise: don't rush this and ask all the questions you need. Make your own checklist in advance! They will take the time for you, but only if you ask for it.
4. Pre-check of these vehicles is poor and I do not think they use checklists, but rely mainly on customer comments. Strong advise: check everything and have all main items demonstrated. You will no doubt find some defects or missing items. Check the spare wheel, you may need it! Make sure there is a jack. Check the vehicle tools (there were some essentials missing!) We asked to demonstrate the awning and it appeared it was broken on one end, which was invisible from the outside. You dont't want to find out when camping the next day. Battery meter was not working. The popup roof was very hard to pull down at the front (we had to live with that). On previous occasions we had broken chairs, a defective table etc. etc. You get the point.
5. Don't rent chairs for 20 AUD or more, but visit Bunnings on your first day and buy camping chairs for 7 AUD. Much cheaper and you get new stuff. We also bought a step-up and some buckets. Useful. Leave the chairs on your last camping.
6. Don't ask for a Cheapa welcome package. We did, but it failed to make us feel welcome. Two small coffee and tea strips and a dishwashing fluid sample. No cleaning towels, even matches were not included.
7. When renting an Apollo/Cheapa 4WD camper, don't expect any recovery tools. This is basically very strange, because in a 4WD you may be bogged down. The only item was a (way too small) folding shovel. We brought our own compressor - you will need it when on sandy tracks! Good point: they did provide an emergency GPS beacon.
8. A basic medical kit was thrown in, which is certainly helpful if you fail to bring your own. However they may not tell you that opening the kit will cost you!
8. Before you go, take pictures of your vehicle, especially from the outside, and make sure you date/time stamp the pictures. This also serves as a reminder that you adjust your date/time settings. In case of damage-claims when returning the vehicle this will save you al lot of trouble (unless you really did cause the damage of course).
Problems when travelling:
When renting a cheaper vehicle, which is usually a bit older, chances of problems and break downs are obviously a bit higher. If you don't want to run the risk, go for Britz and pay a lot more. That being said, the rental should be reliable. in this respect we did not have problems with Cheapa, our vehicle was in good mechanical condition and we did not have any problems apart from a not too good windscreen wiper. When you need something repaired or replaced when travelling, in our experience they will be accommodating (though not always very knowledgable).
Yes, we did have a very nice vacation!